Green provides jump-start of Ravens' rally Tight end contributes key 34-yard reception

September 15, 1997|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Vito Stellino and Rich Fisher contributed to this article.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- At 6 feet 5, 285 pounds, Ravens tight end Eric Green cannot go unnoticed just by lining up at his position. In yesterday's come-from-behind, 24-23 victory over New York at Giants Stadium, Green came up especially big.

His six catches -- good for 71 yards -- led the team. In the second quarter, he drew a pass-interference call in the Giants' end zone that led to Jay Graham's 1-yard touchdown plunge. That gave the Ravens a 14-6 lead.

But Green saved his key play for crunch time. With less than nine minutes to go and the Ravens trailing 23-14 and in desperate need of a jump-start offensively, Green supplied the charge. He beat safety Tito Wooten badly, before hauling in a Vinny Testaverde pass and rumbling downfield to complete a 34-yard gain.

That moved the ball to the Giants' 23, which set up two diving Michael Jackson catches, the last an 11-yard touchdown grab.

"The guy [Wooten] was kind of squatting on me. I don't think he thought Vinny would throw to me in that situation, but I can't believe he just let me run by him," said Green, who stumbled and fell after lunging for the pass. "Vinny laid the ball up there and I went and got it. My teammates were getting on me. They said I should have scored on the play."

The game marked another huge step in Green's comeback. After three games, he has recorded 14 receptions, one less than he achieved last season.

Siragusa's angle

Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, who recorded five tackles, agreed that the defensive line struggled against the Giants up front, where New York controlled the line of scrimmage for the middle of the game.

"They did a lot of good zone blocking, they kept their backs in [to counter the Ravens' blitzes], and they did a good job chipping our linebackers. It was a good game plan," Siragusa said.

"We had some breakdowns, we had a few injuries, but we kept fighting enough to win the game," he added. "Last year, you could see this was an offensive team. We want to make it a defensive team."

Byner catches No. 500

With his 4-yard reception that set up Matt Stover's game-winning field goal, Raven running back Earnest Byner recorded the 500th reception of his 14-year career. That mark was the farthest thing from Byner's mind as the Ravens were putting together their two decisive fourth-quarter drives.

"It was a real somber, concentrated mood [in the huddle]. No one was saying much," said Byner, who got 57 yards on 13 carries. "Everybody was kind of getting within themselves, just thinking about what he had to do to help us win. I know I was."

Graham in background

Call it the sophomore week jinx. A week after getting his first action in the backfield, a week after rushing for 73 yards and a touchdown, Ravens rookie running back Graham came back to earth in the Meadowlands. Graham rushed for -4 yards on six carries, although he did score a 1-yard touchdown on a fourth-down carry in the second quarter. That play featured an excellent lead block by rookie fullback Kenyon Cotton, who got in the backfield for the first time on that goal-line series.

Offensive line struggles

A week ago, right tackle Orlando Brown led the charge that dominated the Cincinnati Bengals' defensive line.

This week, the Ravens had problems with the Giants' line, and Brown said the Ravens' linemen had to take the blame.

"We messed up. We were stopping ourselves," Brown said. "We were jumping offsides. Even Coach told us that. We had to settle down and stay focused. We were hurting ourselves."

But Brown and Jeff Blackshear did make the big blocks to enable Graham to score a second-quarter touchdown on fourth-and-goal after he had been stuffed on first and second down while trying to run to that side.

"We called it three times. The last time, we got it in," Brown said. "Someway, somehow, I knew we had to get underneath them. They were just trying to create a pile. They weren't trying to knock us back. It was like, 'We've got to get lower than them.' That's what we did."

Frederick replaces Burnett

When Ravens defensive end Rob Burnett left the game after re-aggravating his right knee injury in the second quarter, he was replaced by Mike Frederick.

Frederick had one tackle and a pass deflection, and he was the first to say that he is no Burnett.

"I think Rob is a great impact player for us. Obviously, I'm not going to become Rob Burnett when I go out there," Frederick said. "We missed him with our pass rush, and we missed his leadership. Hopefully, we'll have him back next week [in Memphis]."

Burnett, who hurt his knee on a freak play in practice on Thursday, said he would return to start against the Oilers.

Daluiso off target

Giants kicker Brad Daluiso missed his first career extra-point try in 63 attempts when it was blocked by Burnett after the Giants' first touchdown. He also pushed two 41-yard field-goal attempts to the right, making him 2-for-5 in the regular season after going 9-for-9 in the preseason. His second miss came with 2: 59 left.

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